Turkey Allows Pastor Andrew Brunson To Leave After Conviction

12 hours ago

A Turkish court has convicted an American pastor at the center of a Turkish-American diplomatic dispute of terror charges, but has released him from house arrest and allowed him to leave Turkey.

The court near the western city of Izmir on Friday sentenced Andrew Brunson, who has roots in North Carolina, to 3 years and 1 month in prison for the conviction, but since the evangelical pastor has already spent two years in detention he won't serve more time.

Brunson, 50, had rejected the espionage and terror-related charges and strongly maintained his innocence.

Lawyer Ismail Cem Halavurt said Brunson was expected to leave Turkey for the United States.

North Carolina U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis, who has advocated for Brunson's release, said he was grateful for the pastor would finally be headed home.

"I'm grateful for the efforts of President Trump, the State Department and my Senate colleagues for fighting to secure his release," Tillis posted on Twitter. "I look forward to welcoming him home!"